There’s only a few weeks until the Christmas season and summer holidays – so its time for reflection on the year that was.
Take some time out from being ‘in’ the business for an honest appraisal of 2012. We suggest a 1-2 hour brainstorm with your business partner or team —or if you are a solopreneur, chat to your partner, best friend or advisor. Consider these aspects:
- key highlights
- successful projects
- challenges encountered
- areas for improvements/ problems to address
A relaxed planning session is a valuable way to wind the year down and pat yourself on the back, while collecting data that will guide your planning activity in January – when you’re fresh!
As soon as you’re back, take the information from your December brainstorm session and use it to fill out a SWOT analysis:
- Strengths: What you already do well, where you have an edge over competitors
- Weaknesses: Where you need to improve
- Opportunities: target markets that you could move into / new angles for campaigns / image or product refresh / new ideas that would work for your brand
- Threats: Competitors moving into your niche/target market / industry effects/other
Once you’ve done this, look at defining your goals for the year and break them down into measurable objectives. Define and prioritise your key projects for the business – and create an event/product/communications marketing timeline for the year and an activity plan.
Now is also the time to jot down key events on the business calendar and those annual events/weeks/days that you can tap into for your promotions and public relations. For example, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and weeks relevant to your product or cause if relevant. You may also like to earmark expos to attend for networking, speaking or product promotion or online forums to build your profile or brand, plus seminars for your professional development.
As a starting point you can visit the Australian Government’s website calendar of events:
- National weeks: http://australia.gov.au/topics/australian-facts-and-figures/calendars-of-events/national-weeks
- More calendars: http://australia.gov.au/topics/australian-facts-and-figures/calendars-of-events
Remember a short and simple document that everyone can follow will be far more valuable than a 10 page plan.
And don’t forget to look at what other people are doing that is a good fit with your business and whether you can work together on joint promotions to double the budget and spread the message further.
By starting the planning earlier, you’ll be more strategic, and more in control which will make a big difference to end of year outcomes.